SAFE#: 0120

Hometown: Houma, LA

Home Airport:KHUM

Occupation: Attorney/Flight Instructor

Website: www.dchristen.com

Education: University of Illinois, B.A., Juris Doctor, Aviation Institute at Illinois and flight schools around the country.

Pilot Certificates: ATP-SMEL Airplane, COMM-SES Airplane and Rotorcraft-Helicopter, CFI-Airplanes and Helicopters, Ground-Advanced and Instrument, Typed in Aero L-39, N-T28, CE-500, DC-3T

Airplanes Flying/Flown: over 100 makes/models, ultralights through Cessna Citation and DC3 Turbine

Educational Specialty: General flight instruction and now do FAA exams as a DPE

Q & A

What drew you to aviation? The excitement and challenge of aviation presented the opportunity to earn my Private certificate in 1972. The thrill has never diminished since then, even though a new rating occasionally helps to renew the enthusiasm.

How long have you been involved in aviation education? Earned my CFI in 1977, and have taught part time since then. Presently I administer more flight exams than instruct, but I still keep active as a CFI.

What’s your favorite part of what you do in aviation education? At this time, it’s assisting and encouraging newly certificated pilots to continue their aviation education and pursue further ratings.

Do you have a memorable aviation experience you’d like to share? Back in 1973 when I purchased my first airplane, a Cessna 140 for $2500, a grizzled ag pilot checked me out in my first taildragger and he told me, “Son, just remember, if you treat your airplane right, it will treat you right. It knows if you love it or not.”

Why did you join SAFE? I try to be a member of many aviation organizations and support the cause of flying freedom in the USA. I believe that without these various organizations constantly lobbying and reviewing governmental regulations that our rights will slowly be eroded.

What would you like to see change in aviation? I would like to see a reversal of the trend toward large, corporate, expensive, cookie cutter flight schools. We need to return to the grass field, stick and rudder basics where the student learns to fly the airplane first and then learns advanced avionics and CRM secondarily.

Any suggestions on how the above might be accomplished? A return to using basic aircraft, which can be spun and safely recovered from unusual attitudes, with flight instructors with enough experience to teach the same. Perhaps five hours of taildraggers in the flight curriculum. As an example, I had an ab initio trained Second Officer on a CRJ ask me to fly with him and do 45-plus degree banks as he was uncomfortable and desired to overcome this fear.

Who are your role models in aviation? The general aviation flight instructor who flies for the love of aviation and wishes to transfer his experiences to the new pilot for the benefit of safety and the satisfaction of knowing that he assisted someone in their development. Too many flight instructors are in their present position to just build time and move on to larger aircraft and higher pay, which is acceptable as long as they give back and teach what they have learned to others.

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